This blog's for ME

Almost 25 years old, asking my parents if I can sleep in their bed with them. I had thought I was going to be the 25th Prime Minister of Canada. Things had changed. 10 years later, I was still a scared little boy. The time had come to slap myself awake. One Saturday morning, November 19th, 2009, I declared to the world I would be riding my 10 year-old motorcycle from Vancouver, BC Canada to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and back.

The official departure was August 28th, 2010. A group of well-wishers saw me off at 8:03 am.

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 6 pm March 1st, 2011.



My return to Vancouver came on July 5th, 2011 about 2:00 pm.

Drug & alcohol abuse, ADD, social anxiety, health, chronic pain, night terrors.

So many concerns. But I am far more interested in this question: Do I have the capacity to make this trip despite all my shortcomings?

My mission: To inspire myself to face my fears, enlighten myself on how all living things can peacefully co-exist, enjoy every moment, and see the world as plentiful and generous.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. Call me anything you like.

I'm out to save my world.



I LOVE YOU ALL



Questions, comments, concerns, threats? Contact me: jason.chapman99@gmail.com


Wheels fallen off the wagon

Just like having one cigarette thinking no harm no foul, having one beer, or one hamburger, can throw an entire disciplined lifestyle choice off the rails for me. Is it the same for you, or are you able to completely accomplish whatever goal you set?

Getting lazy and paying for it

It's been quite the ride living with anxiety, especially the last 14 years. What has been different about this time span, and the years growing up prior to that, was that I would forge through the feeling, or at least stubbornly stick with it to the point of exhaustion. In my younger years, the slightest tinge of anxiety would be met with an immediate and abrupt reversal of mind, or body, or both. It took sometime to see what I was doing, turn that process around, lengthening the time between my knee-jerk reactions to fear, and a reaction. My life has become considerably larger by this ability to 'stay' through the uncomfortable moments.

Which was better? The countless books, doctor visits, medication, relaxation and meditation, not to mention months of self-centred analysis took it's toll on the enjoyment of life, snuffing out amazing possibility in most of my twenties. Comparatively I had a lot of crazy fun growing up, and everyone seemed to accept my quirkiness regardless. The tie breaker then, to me, seems to be the actualization of yourself as a human being, specifically living your dreams.

Ask yourself

Question: what would you be doing with your life if you didn't have
_________________ (insert problem, affliction, medical condition here)

Answer :_______________________________________

The biggest realization from this exercise can come from knowing one's own mortality. Regardless of religious beliefs, most if not all can agree on one thing: after death, this body, and mind, are no longer. So what's to be said for just doing whatever you want, living life to the fullest?

In the summer of 2007, I asked myself, "what would I be doing if I didn't have anxiety?" My answer was distinctly clear . "I'd be meeting as many people as I could, and taking every opportunity to do anything that I wanted whether it was telling jokes, making friends, staying happy all day, and most of all, saying "YES" to whatever came my way. After a massive house party that winter, and a project I created through Landmark called "Heart to Art", art therapy for people with mental health issues, things seemed to be going well. Entering into a serious relationship began a whole new level of a whole new game, and my life hardly resembled my old way of being.

Under it all, I was still expecting anxiety to turn tail and run after all the personal victories I had, and all the pushing I had done in my life and community. It was still there, and I was ill prepared for the 'battle for peace' that was soon to be my new reality. Today, after a couple tough days, and anxiety that was pitted in my shoulders, stomach, and mind, had eased with a new resolution created. That is peace and purpose. Now, for this to become real, I have to give up that my last two days on the couch meant anything. I have to start from NOW.

Consider that everything you believe is a block from getting what you want, is simply fear. Everything. Vacations, relationships, career moves, new ventures, setting goals - when do you think it's going to feel like the right time? When you are forced to make a change? It is not even the absence of fear, but simply the will to push forward with the fear. Be present during these times, and make a valid effort at learning to stay focused in these times, and allow yourself to become more and more comfortable in situations that would normally scare you. One day you will wake up living your dreams, and if you haven't learned that it takes work everyday, it will be gone as soon as you get it.

Today after eating possibly rancid soy and deep fried sweet potato fries I have another stomach ache, and sore stomach. So, the work I've created over the last 13 days have little effect on me if I jump back to a bad habit for even one sitting. I'll forget about the diarrhea, but at one point do I truly stop to think of the impact of me eating food that doesn't agree with me? It can't be selective; the overall commitment to health has to be maintained every moment, every day.

Were things really lost in the fire?

I can look at old pictures from school, and to risk waxing poetically I admit I would often think they were the times of endless opportunity, and free-wheeling innocence. It's interesting how little the negatives seem to rise above the stream of consciousness. Save for some uncomfortable experiences around baseball and doing everything in my power to avoid it, it seems idyllic.

This type of thinking has been dangerous to my present moment, and I've spent hours upon hours imagining a world other than the one in front of me. In the end it has created a habit of continually backing away from reality, holding onto momma's leg and not wanting to let go until it's safe. Contrarily the desire to break away from the safety of the known is there too. Suffice to say these opposing forces have nearly driven me crazy and the lack of inner peace has had it's toll. How to both give and receive love, as well as boldly step out into the world?

What I mean by this prelude is that somehow I've decided I have lost something, that I have lost my desire for life, my excitement, my optimism for the future and the drive to go get it. What if it never left? What if it simply needed to be cultivated, and cared for, nurtured to the point it would wish itself to appear again? Indeed an infernal optimism may be easier when you are a child as you know no boundaries, but it is more than a possibility to create that same sense of unbridled enthusiasm for the world around us. How? For starters, I believe one must give up that the world is exactly as they see it, and to consider that for a moment, there is a space for magic. Also, for me it seems to lie somewhere between facing fears, and keeping a peace within myself without sacrificing a refreshing view of life around me.

My cousin's friends have told her it may be the last she sees of me before disembarking from the United States into Mexico. Mexican drug wars have indeed come to a head, where certain factions fight with the police and army for control of the region. It wasn't the kind of support I wanted to hear, and a knot in my stomach sits heavy there as I write. These feelings are something to control, and manage otherwise they will get out of control. Anderson Cooper had mentioned in an interview once that that same feeling was one he was familiar with, and knew the importance of keeping it in check. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather doing something in the face of fear.

The reality of any situation out of the sphere of North American media is that it is focused on the negative, and created to sensationalize the occurrences. We do not hear of all the violent crimes that occur in our neighbourhoods, as our police departments would rather not incite fear among the general public. The fear of the outside world is what keeps us paying our taxes, and doing what we're told.

A bit of history I found with Giovanni's world: WARNING IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING

www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://giovanniworld.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/mexico-drug-wars2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://giovanniworld.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/obama-sends-unarmed-national-guards-to-mexican-border/&usg=__ZccPeWAc6XseSMASx5IMAl_zaxw=&h=285&w=450&sz=33&hl=en&start=14&sig2=6m0-ifm13QGb-fSpFoomPA&itbs=1&tbnid=pg3xS7xvtJdevM:&tbnh=80&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmexican%2Bdrug%2Bwar%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=_7LYS6jvLZWqtAP4rdWdBg

Crazy World

An article in the National Post today concerned the 'new diagnosis' of temper tantrums for children, similar to the ADD stamp adopted a few years ago. Basically it is described as a toddler's inability to calm themselves down, and instead have tantrums. Now, I see no problem with busy bodied psychiatrists looking to be the 'next big thing' and add the mental disorder that they discovered into the DSM IV, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Volume 4 allpsych.com/disorders/dsm.html

The problem arises now with over zealous parents who, at their child's early age, have a handy dandy label for behaviour that will most certainly lead to medication, behavioural therapy, and a child that by the age of 5 just can't shake this feeling that there is something wrong with them. The only thing wrong with them is they've had their worried parents and medical practitioners fuss over a condition, now conveniently called temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. This world is fast becoming so stupid crazy, with millions and millions of people trying to make their mark, trying to be special. It's getting to a point, in some cases, that these diagnoses are leading to further problems. We can't see the implications until 20 or 30 or more years down the road.

So, then when I hold my child upside down when she's having a tantrum, I would be thrown in jail? Our natural abilities to parent would be considered barbaric or primitive?
The humane, and proper way is to medicate them into drugged up little monkeys. Give me a break I am so frustrated right now and disappointed with our collective groupthink on issues that have a lasting impact.

The reality is we are animals. How far do we have to suppress it to try and forget it? Accepting our animalism allows all kinds of freedom in how we act with each other, love each other, protect each other, sustain ourselves. I am not condoning beating on each other like a couple of gorillas, or ripping the flesh out of a running gazelle with bare teeth. Instead, some understanding that a baby comes out of it's mother's womb much the same as it has for hundreds of thousands of years, and to put these robotic, inflexible, textbook labels onto them is, in my most humble opinion, much much more harmful down the road, than good.

Anyways, let's just go watch our Justin Bieber video and forget about it.

Palpable fear

Two nights after work of laying on the couch telling myself I needed it, and finally tonight was time to pull myself ever so gently away. Found myself becoming so easily annoyed with certain things, and my anxiety seemed to be going on a bit of a long-haul trip.

For some reason, my cat Kenya, is being so friendly with me right now. She never seeks any attention, and now she`s gagging for it. Strange little animal. Maybe she senses that I`m more at ease now. Just noticing my keyboard now has è on it somehow switched to french. Letès google the problem. ???? Yup got her now. Control and shift together will cycle between english and french keyboards.

Tonight I'm comparing the youtube views of Don Tolman, a health expert who has studied ancient food around the world for 17 years, and Justin Bieber, a young Canadian who seems to be latest eye candy for teen girls. Don Tolman, although sporting a bit of a wacky facial hair concoction, shares that in 1908, 1 in 8000 people had cancer. Today, 1 in 3. Justin Bieber, barely 16 years old, has had two of his outdoor concerts cancelled on either side of the globe, prompting journalists to coin the phrase "Bieber Stampede".

Views for Don Tolman: 4,090 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdTpjPGUvwc

Views for Justin Bieber: 103,280,684 www.youtube.com/watch?v=kffacxfA7G4&feature=channel

New challenges on the path

A Sunday morning sleep in, relaxing breakfast at Café du Soleil (not to be confused with Café deux Soleil), free admission to Van Dusen gardens, and a BBQ full of engaging people in a gorgeous house in Shaugnessy seemed fitting preparation for what was to come.

A late night phone call to my parents was expected to be nothing more than a quick goodnight, and I thought I wouldn't bother Dad for a change, but when my Mom asked if I wanted to speak to him, I was pleasantly surprised. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked me "So, what's this about writing?" I was taken aback, and answered "Uh..... yeah". "Uh... yeah", he replied. Turns out he was quite upset at the thought of me writing my life story in the local newspaper, and had visions of himself having to leave town, overwhelmed with the entire town knowing all about his personal life. Fortunately I was able to hear his concern, and not take it personally. Meanwhile Bonnie dumped purple juice all over her pants, and threw the carton out of the car, all the while my dad is getting more and more agitated.

After a potentially explosive situation, it was diffused by assuring him there will be no personal information shared in the paper, and that if anything by me is published, the author's name will be inconsequential. I was pissed off for him putting that on me, but it really reminded me how scared I was as a child to do the things I wanted to do. That fear of public scrutiny was an ever-present omen around our house growing up, as was putting up the appearances for a small town. There is nothing at all wrong with this; we had to survive somehow, and being socially accepted in a small farming community was a part of the puzzle.

My night was complete when Bonnie's ex came knocking on the door, 12 dozen red roses in tow and a promise of untold rewards for taking a risk; leaving me and marrying him. Her and I have had ups and downs most definitely, and whenever we seem to be doing well he jumps into the picture. He's no threat to me, it is just an awkward situation, and leaves Bonnie filled with doubts as to the validity of our relationship, no doubt further pushed with the realization of my departure in 4 months. I was filled with anxiety despite this, as a flood of emotions came over me. Would it have been appropriate to walk down the stairs, open the door, and receive the flowers myself? Should I have invited him in? Perhaps that is what anxiety is in it's base form, restraining oneself from doing that which could lead to further pain, discomfort and anxiety. If dealt with in a calm, mature way though, it could also relieve the situation.

Anger Management

I can put on the happiest, friendliest face to people, but inside I'm frustrated, angry and upset. Tonight, as I set off to a couple social affairs, I am just going to practice patience and presence. There is no need to hide, or defend anything. I am perfectly whole and complete the way I am. The reality is that I have made little effort to see any of the people I will be seeing tonight. Perhaps it's the fear of juggling the nuances of social interactions but I have resorted to work and self-improvement. So what, yeah, I'll admit, I have said things that hurt people in the past. I just got bored with the niceties of conversation, or uncomfortable with the pressure I put on myself to be socially appropriate. It's so refreshing when you are around people who are accepting of wherever you're at, or whatever you say.

The ultimate fear for me is to be in a group of people, and have the entire group turn away from me. I was scuba diving for 4 days off the Great Barrier Reef off of Cairns, Australia in late 1992. We had a talent contest, and each person was to share something. I was big into Andrew Dice Clay at the time, who was, and still is known as a hard-nosed Brooklyn stand-up with an edge. The height of his act was in the late eighties.

It was well known in my high school that I had an Anti-American side to me, chastising anyone who loved the U.S.A., or even wore anything bearing the stars and stripes. This carried on for a few years. As I'm thinking of my special talent, one that had worked well with my buddies in high school, it donned on me that I could tell some jokes and use the Americans on the boat as fodder. It bombed. After that, I beat myself up so bad I stayed away from everyone, feeling foolish and embarrassed. It only made things worse. I just wanted to be a part of it; laughter had been my only way to keep a distance from people and still get a feeling that I was loved.

My alienation continued on our final exam dive when I left my partner on the surface alone. She was unable to sink as she was too buoyant, and all I could think of was that I would be left out of the exam. As our instructor Douglas began his roll call on the reef bottom, he looked up and saw I was alone, and immediately started dramatically moving his clenched hands with thumbs up, up, up. When we surfaced, he laid into me. "Never leave your partner alone. That is the most important part of diving!" He was furious, and I sat on the boat for 2 days to learn the lesson. The sting was so deep. I never understood that I had always had the attitude of letting people fend for themselves in certain cases. Sometimes I felt resentful that someone needed me, or relied on me, but I simply had spent so much time thinking only of myself, it was just a feeling that I needed to deal with if I truly wanted love in my life.

8 days on the road and I stayed home

The NAAM Restaurant last night http://www.thenaam.com/naam/frame.htm, and Gorilla Food for lunch today http://www.gorillafood.com/food%20menu.html - I've got a vested interest in keeping this new diet engaging. Unlike the gruelling 10 day Master Cleanse of lemonade, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, I've surpassed 6 days of change and feeling good at day 8.

Favourite quote of the day:

"If you don't eat meat, you're gonna die!" - Dad

Going to bed and reading a bit of that guy we all know and love, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and his book Erroneous Zones, kindly lent to me by Sean. The cover features an extreme close up photo of him in all his 70's glory and shagginess. I'm just having a hard time concentrating as I've got a few areas of body pain and it's pissing me off so I'll just give it a break and go get horizontal.

Let me leave you with the opening few words:

"The essence of greatness is the ability to choose personal fulfillment in circumstances where others choose madness".

Look over your shoulder. You will notice a constant companion. For want of a better name, call him Your-Own-Death. You can fear this visitor or use him for your personal gain. the choice is up to you.

With death so endless a proposition and life so breathtakingly brief, ask yourself, "Should I avoid doing the things I really want to do?" "Should I live my life as others want me to?" "Are things important to accumulate?" "Is putting it off the way to live?" Chances are your answers can be summed up in a few words: Live... Be You.... Enjoy..... Love.

You can fear your death, ineffectually, or you can use it to help you learn to live effectively. Listen to Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych as he awaits the great leveler, contemplating a past which was thoroughly dominated by others, a life in which he had given up control of himself in order to fit into a system.

"What if my whole life has been wrong?" It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely noticeable impulses, which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing and the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend.....

The next time you are contemplating a decision in which you are debating whether or not to take charge of yourself, to make your own choice, ask yourself an important question, "How long am I going to be dead?" With that eternal perspective, you can now make your own choice and leave the worrying, the fears, the question of whether you can afford it and the guilt to those who are going to be alive forever.

If you don't begin taking these steps, you can anticipate living your entire life the way others say you must. Surely if your sojourn on earth is so brief, it ought at least to be pleasing to you. In a word, it's your life; do with it what you want.

- excerpt from Erroneous Zones, Wayne Dyer, 1976

Another day of tests

What do you do when your comfort foods - Mars bars, Miss Vickie's sea salt and malt vinegar, and a cold can of Coke, are not included in your list of foods to eat? What do you do when cigarettes, rum, or a joint are not either? Well, I'm thinking I better learn how to cope with my feelings without them, and get comfortable with the ups and downs of life.

I used to get so excited thinking about that smoke, and that lifted my spirits up enough to overcome the reality of sucking smoke and chemicals into my lungs and bloodstream. I started smoking when I was 28 years old, a time when I worked with two older women who smoked on every coffee break. I envied their ability to be calm, and relaxed, and attributed it to their cigarettes. The first one I tried was the hardest, but after a few forced attempts, I was already sticking them behind my ear, getting ready for the next chance. I really did feel cool, and looking back I think it was like my security blanket. That's what gave me the 'cool' feeling. Oftentimes chain-smoking would get going, and a pack would be consumed in a night, less than minutes between smokes. I just couldn't get enough, or maybe it was 'chasing the dragon's tail', always looking to get that initial 'everything's perfect' buzz.

I've often wondered why, when I feel low or down I do not want to reach out. Cocoon, turtle, basically any euphemism for depression and anti-social behavior. It seems there is a pushing away of others who may see me this way, or try to change it, or cajole it away. Maybe it's just the embarrassment of being seen as vulnerable, or weak and imperfect. To be in North American society, it seems one must be happy, smiling, talkative and gregarious all the time. At least that's the way it feels to me. When you are the one who instead feels introverted, overwhelmed, tired, cranky and irritable, it can be a difficult undertaking to go out. Many times I would have to will myself to go out, put on my happy face, and be the life of the party.

Alcohol was always an easy, and accessible option. I had found some inspiration for Halloween '09 after riding my motorcycle for a year, and thought it would really bring me out of my shell to dress up as as gay biker. For over a month I amassed several crucial parts to the costume: leather pants, vest, boots, and hat, aviator sunglasses, and pièce de résistance: a cheesy handlebar moustache I had grown a couple months.

Before heading out, I was preparing a song I had written for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, and was pumped with the progress I had made that night of October 31st. Getting primed for two parties that night, I thought I'd better have a whiskey and coke before I go just so I could pull off the show. Just before I left a 1/2 hour later, I had consumed 3/4 of a 26 oz. The police woke me up at the end of the Canada Line train, and asked me if this was my stop. After stumbling out of the station only to find my friend Keith was no longer at his place, I then picked up a cigarette outside the pack at his door, after a week of no smoking, and lit one up. Frustrated, embarrassed and angry with myself for getting so drunk, I berated myself and returned to the Skytrain, winding my way back to Broadway/City Hall. By 11 pm, I was home and took this picture to at least remind myself of my exploits. It would not be until my birthday on December 29th that any of my friends would be able to see me in this get-up.

Fast forward back to today. I'm looking forward to receiving a cheque from my new roommate Bruce, who looks to be stepping up in this world. After a two month stint at a university in Ontario, a volunteer position at the Olympics, he's found himself making close to minimum wage at a Gastown restaurant washing dishes. If all goes well, he will be able to have his own apartment in 4 months, and hopefully change his circumstances.

The process of finding a roommate has taught me to not overly consider others' opinions and actions, and to simply focus on my actions instead. After a lifetime of trying to control people around me, the white flag is flying. Sorry, Dido you are stronger than I. It's become ludicrous to continually fight and survive my perception of what other people think. The trick of the mind is trying to have me continually on a hamster wheel of addiction to approval, and outright competition with everyone. If the object of the game is to be happy, I would have been a perennial loser, and that again, is why a change must be made.

I often could do with an aggressive soccer game, an intense video game or riding my mountain bike down a steep cliff, anything to feel alive and not so preoccupied with what's going on inside me. I'm not on a team, video games for me have turned into addictive 3 day sessions, and I don't know how to ride my bike well enough to navigate a sheer cliff face. How about getting really interested in the world around me? My girlfriend, my friends, even strangers - ask them questions about their life and treat them like the single most interesting thing in my world. Considering today I decided to be fun and free, this would fit right in.

The Journey Of My Dreams

Pat was always a woman who knew what she wanted. It was certainly the case when she met Robert, and had decided within an hour she would be his wife. After raising two kids, growing a successful family business, and building their dream home in Beaumont, Alberta, Pat and Robert were looking forward to slowing down a bit and doing some travelling. Never the type to 'rough it' too much, the group touring option seemed to be a good fit for them: everything was taken care of and there was nothing much to worry about.

Shortly after joining a tour, Robert was quickly known as the group's quipster. He had a knack for pulling people out of their routines, and a gift for easy camaraderie. Their confidence in travelling ended up growing through several trips, not the least of which was Morocco. Consisting of a population that is 99% Muslim, Morocco was a far step culturally from small town Alberta. Despite this, Robert, while in his early 50's, was his usual light-hearted self before their departure. "You know what's funny?" he would say. "Pat will have to cover everything but her eyes, but I'll be able to prance around in my speedos!" There were chuckles all around.

Again, the success of their trip buoyed them to take on another adventure, and that would be Africa. Planning had begun, and arrangements were being made. Neither of them had ever let anything get in the way of their dreams before, but fate dealt them a deck of cards they were ill equipped to play. Robert was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He would die in less than a year.

The illness was devastating for Pat, but when the clouds lifted, she began to talk about making that trip to Africa after all. I had known the family for 5 years through her daughter Lisa, and had become a bit of a surrogate son of sorts. In a casual conversation on the phone one evening, Lisa had mentioned to me that her mom was thinking about bringing someone along with her, but she couldn't decide who. Being the ever-aware opportunist, I exclaimed "I'll go", a little more than half-joking. To my shock, Lisa said "Hmmm...... that's a good idea. She might just go for that." Within 6 months, I was on a plane from Edmonton, Alberta to Nairobi, Kenya with a battery of vaccine shots, 3 weeks off of work, and a mind full of possibility.

After my initial judgements wore off, I was able to bond with the group we joined, despite an over 50 year difference between myself and the eldest participant. Several of the group's members somehow knew that this trip would be the last, great exotic trip of their lives. It ended up being quite difficult for one elderly lady, who was confined to a wheelchair for most of the outings. In her mind though, these difficulties paled in comparison to the wonderment she saw around her: Africa.

Wildlife as vast and numerous as ants in an anthill, teeming over the plains, and crossing over rivers in mass migrations. Maasai Mara tribesmen opening up their huts to us, built entirely from the dung of their cows, of which they rely entirely on for survival. Five-star resorts with buffets that would shame a king. Dangerous checkstops in the middle of nowhere, our driver vehemently denying the young man with a semi-automatic rifle a toll for our passing. Abject poverty, and breathtaking reality. The sights and sounds from this experience are burned in my memory banks forever.

Somehow despite the obvious differences, the landscape often reminded me of my farm in Stettler. The sweeping plains, and short, sun-browned grasses, with a lone tree in the distance. The train of elephants on the horizon, or the pride of lions in the shade of the bushes, would snap me back to the reality of my surroundings.

Archaeologists have known for years that the human race originated in this region; I shouldn't have been so surprised that somehow it felt like home. Perhaps we were able to bring Robert's spirit back to where it all began, and maybe, just maybe, he was glad to be home too.

Success!

After a conversation tonight with my beautiful sister Jodi, I realized how much small, seemingly benign interactions with people I looked up to as a child had impacted my life. We were reminiscing about old times, and she had said that when I was about 5 and she was about 7, we would often go on holidays to B.C. from Alberta in a Dodge pickup truck with a topper on the back. Not one of these fancy campers, I'm talking pretty cramped quarters. A piece of plywood would span the wheel wells, and we'd have our foamies and blankets to lay out on, without seatbelts (egads!). Her and I would keep each other company for hours while mom and dad, and often a set of grandparents would be in front in the club cab. There was a space between the topper and the cab, and a white inflatable round tube was placed there to cut down on wind while the back window could be kept open.

Jodi told me that, to get me to do things she would threaten to not be my friend anymore. On the verge of tears, I would do anything so that she would say she was still my friend. And so started 30 some years of wanting everyone to like me. It wasn't until the last year or so I realized people liking me wasn't that important, and that it was hurting me way more than helping me. My long standing guilt for tormenting my sister in her teen years suddenly dissipated once I realized she probably did way more damage to me than I did to her! My fave name for her was 'a green-eyed hog-nosed snake'; pretty rude, but at least I never said she wasn't my friend!!!

On the diet front, I know you've all been waiting to find out. Yes, I'm still going despite a quick glance at the whiskey bottle, and a quick craving for a smoke after I finally found a new roommate. Cooked some rice pasta and sauce, which caused absolutely no problem to speak of, despite having stomach aches for the last 36 hours basically. It's the best I've felt in 5 days. A fellow named Clayton that I met a couple nights ago at Kino Cafe, the Spanish Flamenco restaurant on Cambie www.kinocafe.ca/ , suggested the source of my GI troubles was emotional. Considering the stress of finding a new roommate may soon be over after 3 weeks, he may be right.

Hmmm..... not going as planned

Ok, so yeah, I'll be honest. I thought all I had to do was eat a vegan diet, and everything would be A-OK. Not so. Stomach ache from the morning until now. Having the saliva build up in my cheeks, which receive a tingly sensation at the same time, it's clear the stomach really wants to expel whatever it is eating up in it's pool of acrid acid. In conversations I've had throughout the day, and checking some things on the internet, I've presupposed it's a combination of things - stress, eating too fast, allergies. So, it's time to ssslllloooowwww dddooowwwwnnnn............that being said, it could be CANCER. CANCER - who ever thought of that word anyways? I guess they could have called it POLTY, and it would have the exact same chilling effect on any human who hears it's utterance.

I totally forgot that it's 4:20 today, or April 20th, a cult holiday of sorts for those who love to partake in the smoking of cannabis. I'll let wikipedia do the rest of the talkin' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/420_(cannabis_culture). I have certainly smoked marijuana from time to time, and have thoroughly enjoyed it's ability to completely change my state of mind. From cold, and distant, I can turn into a friendly, outgoing, talk-your-ear off gregarion. I made that last noun up, so don't even try to go and find it. I'm sorry for all the 'I's in my writing; will be working on creating some other forms of sentences.

For now, though, I think it's crucial to go through this journey with as little outside help as possible, especially stimulants. Do not get me wrong people, most people who know me know that I love the stimulants. Right down to chewing gum like it was cud, the simple desire to innoculate my mind with distraction has become a constant.

Great day with a final test

We were rollerblading today from Science World to English Bay. On our return, Bonnie stopped to look at a note that had been left under the Burrard Street bridge. A person had jumped, and we found this note. I really felt the writer's hope for humanity, yet unshakeable despair for the loss of a life of someone who gave up. I had renovated an apartment for a sweet couple years ago downtown, and kept in touch with Jane, the on-site supervisor of sorts. The couple ended up breaking up, and the young man took it pretty hard. He also took his last jump into the great unknown from this bridge.

My friend Sayo Nickerson and I have been calling each other at 6 am every work day since March of last year, save for some holidays thrown in there. This day, I kept going after our call, and Bonnie and I took a nice walk through the majestic and other-worldly cherry blossoms that carpeted many of the streets we walked.

I then was at the VGH for my 2 month x-ray of a broken arm - still a big space between the bones, and a milky, ghostly substance surrounding the fracture. The Persian doc assured me no worries for bone density, and that he had seen these fractures at least 10 times before.

A major shift in my life that started with this journey was to call my parents everyday. They were the 2nd and 3rd people I shared my excursion with back on November 22nd, 2009 and I've strived to contact them every day since. It was an impetus to get to know them, to really push past 'how's the weather', and get into really being with each other. My folks are 70 and 71 years old and healthy; I wasn't worried about losing them, but I was worried about not knowing them. If I started, at least I could make some headway in that regard. I would regret not being able to pass on who they were to my children.

One of the biggest concerns about this trip has been how to engineer not only a career change, but create a source of income. Despite not having writing a winning article since Grade 12, the romantic notion of writing of my travels quickly clouded my mind, and I started to put my wishes out there. Steve Jones started it out when he gave me Baila's phone number, an experienced editor. From there, she and I spoke at length, and happened to meet coincidentally at a few other places. In fact, Bonnie had mentioned Baila was more than a bit concerned about her allowing a man into her life who is jumping on a motorcycle to South America in 5 months. Regardless of her concerns, she still had the time to share some most useful hints on how to write, and request a meeting of the minds with the editor type. Keep it brief, don't overcommit, and don't get lazy in your writing, even if it's an email.

So, my first interested party is Mr. Mustafa Eric, editor of my hometown rag, The Stettler Independent. Even if he doesn't go ahead with it, I was grateful for the interest and it was a needed boost on a tough day. I promised to have something written for the end of the week.

Did I mention my roommate Sy gave his notice to move out at the end of the month? I have yet to find a replacement, and I've had over 10 people come and check it out, as well as craigslist ads out for over 3 weeks. Heat across my shoulders, and muscle tension all over - just can't let it stop me. Repost again, and think of other places I can advertise. It's been a good experience, as I've realized I've stopped fighting for things. So, now that the end of the month is 11 days away, I started really promoting the place, and putting an effort into getting the result I want. There is always something worth fighting for.

I took lunch into my own hands, and fried up some tofu in dark soya sauce, veggie sausages, asparagus, brussel sprouts, with some TruBlue juice. Not too bad, and got some major points with the girlfriend for cooking lunch for her. I did get rewarded for my effort!

Sunday's Best

Slept in, ate breakfast, then agreed with Bonnie to go out to Mission. "Let's not look at the map, and just go". Fantastic 'pit' stop at Pitt Lake, where we hung out on a log, marvelling at the engineering of a peregrine falcon, whose nest refused to be toppled by the intense winds of a month ago.

A movie night was agreed on, and looked forward to. 'Precious' was the choice, and despite it's intense subject matter, and disturbing reality, I was hard pressed to stay awake half through, and was given permission to go to bed. Spank you very much.

Day 2 All munged up

So the dinner went well, and ate the leftovers today. Bonnie made a stew type thing of lentils, coconut milk, potatoes, onions, garlic, curry spices. There was a salad that consisted of spinach, arugula, pepper, mango, BRAGG sauce. I thought there might have been mung beans in there somewhere, cause I'm really munged up today. A nice stirfry with an array of veggies. She had invited Lisa and Stephan, who were recently engaged. Really good food, and great company despite them all flaunting their ability to drink a nice white wine in front of me. Ended up going to "Laughs at the Legion" with a host of amazing local comics. Laughter is so crucial to any recovery let alone a major supplement to life in general. When's the last time you laughed so hard you cried?

From an incident that happened during the dinner/stand-up comedy after bit, also remembered the key to healthy relationships is communication. Long story short - I ended up going to the comedy show alone, and Bonnie came later. Neither of us had really gotten clear as to the expectations of the night, and we both ended up frustrated and angry at each other. The good news though was that after some bitchy moments aimed at each others' faces, we were able to get rid of some tension, and come to a better understanding of each other. Conflict resolution can never occur if you're scared of conflict. From someone who is 'scared of conflict', I say get in there, and don't stop until it's resolved!

Now, back to the leftovers: problem was it was so good I ended up eating way too much, and got a stomach ache again. I thought that all I had to do was eat vegan and all my troubles would go away. It seems my body is trying to figure this change out, and I had some uncomfortable moments in the water closet if you know what I mean. I've had plenty of these through the years, and never concerned myself until I started connecting this with the harsh realities of cancer in industrialized nations. Colorectal cancer is the 2nd or third commonest in industrial nations as per www.drbenkim.com/colon-clean-healthy.html. Ok, you've got my attention now!

In the very least, irritable bowel syndrome is the first probable cause. So, I ended up going to a friend's party nonetheless, and invited another friend who was going through a hard time. It was so good to just 'be' with everybody - no worries about whether I was good enough, or if they liked me. I turned my focus onto THEM. How are they doing? What's going on in their lives? Do they need a helping hand, or someone to talk to? My problems, my tiredness, my concerns all melted away.

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow who sells water machines. Not just filtered water, this machine does everything from separate acid and alkine water to convert it's energy. I've been hearing lots about the connections between highly acidic diets and cancer, specifically inflammation. My friend Ken was the first to tell me about it. Before it's not too late, I want to take a look at it. Here's a good list of alkaline foods if you're interested in balancing that out. www.ctds.info/chart.html Maybe it is too late for me, but at least I feel powerful in taking control. Before I spend $2200 on his machine, I want to take care of the cheap and easy stuff first. I wonder if this journey is going to lead me to being a 'raw foodist'. If I get more energy, less pain, better moods I'd start my own freakin' garden.

One day down 29 to go



Well folks lots of cravings; crazy 'double down' advert on the telly tonight, and it sounded so absurd I thought it was a joke - two pieces of chicken with cheese between them, wrapped in paper! Who needs the bun? Well, being allergic to wheat, I was tempted, so tempted. It seemed the perfect meal!
Anyways, I poured out my first 5 gallon pail into my fish tank tonight. Not a big deal, except that I didn't tell you I broke my left arm, mid-humeral shaft about 7 weeks ago. Arm wrestling. This got me to thinking, hmmm, maybe my bones have been weakened by my diet too. My healing seems to be doing well though. Doctor said it was good I quit smoking, as he said it would have taken considerably longer. That made me feel somewhat better, although let me tell you, I could have done with a big ciggy after the unimaginable pain settled down.
Off to a vegan meal that my great girl is cooking tonight.

Steak-eatin' beer drinkin' Albertan meets TOFU

Let's get something straight. I'm talking to myself here. Jason, you can still live. You will still go on. No, a piece of dead animal will not touch your lips for 30 days. No, the sweet nectar of beer will not caress your throat as it fizzes and giggles its way down into your bloodstream, intoxicating you with its beautiful buzz. In fact, you will eat, as well as you understand, a vegan diet for 30 days. No alcohol. What? Wait a minute, I..... YES, YES, YOU WILL STOP YOUR GODDAMN WHININ'! After 30 days, you can go back to eat whatever the heck you want, but for 30 days, you're going to stick with it. No pop, no chips, no chocolate bar lunches. No dairy, that's right no ice cream or milkshakes. No eggs, bacon, ham, bread with flour, AAAAHHHHH NO YOU CAN'T TAKE ME ALIVE I WILL FIGHT FOR MY BREAKFAST LET ME HAVE MY BREAKFAST PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Ok, that feels better, but you're still gonna do it. Shit cakes.

So, I just happen to live across the street from Whole Foods. Never would have considered going there just a few months ago - forget it. I used to say "pay 6 bucks for an organic banana?" Fuggedaboudit! Those damn corporate elite are probably lying about their organic food anyways. How can you trust them? I should go in the poor house just for my food? No fricken way. Things have changed, and my health has been deteriorating for awhile. The challenge has been that, living with an anxiety disorder, I've never quite known when I'm pushing myself past an obstacle, or outright neglecting, and abusing myself.

I've just realized, after all these years, food is actually the most important decision I can make. It's my energy, it's my health, it's my feeling good or feeling krappy. I've been putting up with stomach aches of titanic proportions, flatulence from the gods, diarrhea that has been like water at times. That's right folks, I'm not proud to say I've been so stubborn for so long that I refused to consider that I had a problem, and a severe one at that. That I could deal with actually, but when I started believing it could be affecting more than my GI tract, my mindset definitely altered.

When I was running Donna Maintenance, a small condo maintenance company, I was so stressed for 3 years trying to survive, food was not even on the list called 'priority'. Slimy McDonald's burgers, fries, heavy dinners out, deep fried anything, whatever was fast and cheap. My friend Joel would tease me about my cigarette, coffee, Mars Bar and Salt & Vinegar Chip lunches. I simply refused to consider that food would do any good for me. I thought I was just high strung, and needed to either a) make more money b) find a perfect woman c) get famous d) all of the above before I would even consider something as boring, frivolous, and ridiculous as food.

I even reviled the people who would 'waste' their time in the grocery stores, looking up and down the aisles, taking their time. We could be doing something more useful, like playing a sport, or partying, or making money somehow! Definitely not spending it on food. Never enough money, never enough time, and food continuously got shafted. I guess you could say I had quite the dysfunctional relationship to food. I remember my high school friend Sang Yoon chastising me for swallowing my food without chewing! Yup, I clearly recall him saying "you're supposed to chew your food 32 times before swallowing". Always respected the guy for his intelligence, but yeah right! Who has that kind of time?

The first of many steps was to finally visit a Naturopath by the name of Dr. Sid Weiss. I had to find a facebook friend who had 'defriended' me - ouch! - who had suggested him to me almost two years ago. Dr. Weiss practices Auricular Medicine, in which he places one hand on your wrist to measure heartbeats, and the other holds a variety of substances near the ear. He claimed that he was able to tell what foods' energy was repulsed, and accepted by my body. I was initially quite sceptical, but willing to try anything. He quickly determined an allergy to wheat, pork, and cheese - pretty much 90% of my friggen diet! Ha ha ha! Despite the grim news, and $260 later, I was off with my new found knowledge and several bottles of herbal tinctures to drink twice a day. I'd recommend him - don't be a JC Penny like I was - go at least for an initial consultation if you suspect you're not running 100%.

Here's his link: www.drsidweiss.com

Well, that was back in February; I now know he's onto something. I pretty much feel bloated and uncomfortable whenever I eat my favourite foods like pizza, beer, white bread, and the list goes on. I can't believe it, but I haven't had a slice of pizza in over a month - and Vancouver is PIZZA SLICE TOWN for sure. Every corner downtown on Granville has some kind of pizza joint. So, I've been inconsistent, but surprised with my will power on some of the biggies, not all, but some. Giving up beer, giving up beer. I feel like crying. I love you beer, I want you to love me back. Let's get married, or something. C'mon, please. BEER to JASON: Dude, chill. I'm just not that into you. JASON to BEER: Yeah? Fine. I read the book. I know all about that. I've been down that road before with someone else who wasn't half as good as you! JERK!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He's_Just_Not_That_into_You

So, after a $65 expedition to Whole Foods, this is what yours truly, the avid, yet inexperienced urban hunter, came back with:

organic pears - still a little green me thinks
salted mixed nuts - hey these little suckers are the best I've ever tasted! They should use Vince the 'Slap-Chopper's slogan - You're gonna LOVE MY NUTS!
medium firm tofu - sealed and stored in water? Tastes pretty bland, gonna haveta fry it up with some teriyaki. Problem is: most sauces are made with wheat!!!
snow peas - I just eat 'em with the pod n' all.
southern kiwiberry - "the sweet tasting, healthy super snack that is ready to eat... just like a grape! Delicious in salads, dips or simply as is." $4.99 for 10 teeny weeny things is a little pricey despite the nice words........
seaweed crunch - Product of Japan, tasty little things despite being a weed from the sea.
brussel sprouts - c'mon kids try 'em they're good for ya!!! I got these fresh, not frozen.
Glutino Gluten Free Fiber Bread - $6.99 a loaf for friggs sake! But no wheat.

So, folks, strap yourselves across the back, and we'll try some sado-masochistic eating!

What now?

So, I just had some macaroni salad from the deli. Then I had to vomit. Is this a sign that something isn't quite right?

Some days

Some days are easier, some days are harder. Today has been a frustrating day as I just want to feel differently than I do, I want to think differently than I do, I want to be different than I am. Just such an overwhelming state of discontent, of anger, of tiredness, of wishing things were better than they were. I know it takes patience, I know it takes everyday learning. For some reason, I admire Donald Trump and Gene Simmons. Even though I know deep down I would despise a lot about them, at least they are doing exactly what they want to do. I envy that power to just say "I want that", and to get it. It seems the only way I've been able to get out of my traps is to fully accept them. A big part of me wants to fight to get what I want, to achieve it, to push through, but some days, I just feel so much disease within myself, all I want to do is to cover it up, distract myself from it, kill it, get rid of it, demolish it. I know there are a million and one ways to do that; how many of them make the matter worse? Some days.

Victory

I am safely back home from my bicycle trip. 180 km in 40 hours and I gotta be honest it wasn't always easy. The hardest part of the road was being 10 minutes from home, cold and wet, in Steamrollers on Robson, wanting to get picked up. Everyone offered, but I had to finish what I had started. It is a little over 24 hours after I got home and I hardly slept, so a 3 hour nap after work today certainly did the trick. Why did I do it? I was so excited about the challenge, so excited about seeing what was out there, and most importantly, getting out on the road.

I will never forget being about 9 or 10 years old maybe, with my sister, and our neighbours, the Huber's, who were about the same age as us. We grew up on a farm about a mile and a half out of a small town in Alberta, Canada, and their house was about 1/4 mile closer to Stettler than us. There was an amazing rainbow, and it's end seemed to be somewhere in a stand of trees, in the middle of the field across from their house. We got so excited talking about how we were going to find the gold at the end of it, and possibly a run-in with leprechauns and various magical creatures. Somehow our enthusiasm faded, and so did the rainbow. I guess the lesson I learned then was to go after that rainbow as soon as I see it, as I could never know how long it was going to be there. So, this time, I did. I can't say I got the gold, but the anticipation of going for it, and the confidence to know that I completed it, will be in my memories forever.

Let's push my limits

There's been so many things I've wanted to accomplish. Would you agree that, to accomplish great things, one must concentrate on one thing, and do that one thing very well? I'm about to find out for myself.

For starters, I decided yesterday I was going to visit my cousin and family near Qualicum Beach, on Vancouver Island. On my pedal bike. The distance: 140 km. 1/2 of that is the ferry ride from Vancouver, but still definitely the biggest ride I've been on in one day.

Secondly, after a run-in with a delicious butternut squash ravioli last night, I'm recommitting to my health. I was diagnosed by a naturopath as being allergic to wheat, pork and cheese, and I've been really good about cutting them out until last night. I had a stomach ache all night, my cheeks were flushed, and flatulence from the gods.

Finally, after several breakups with my girlfriend, I've realized I'm just repeating a pattern to avoid intimacy and responsibility for another human being. Despite my best efforts, she, although waringly, continues to keep an open door for me.

I could add a bunch of other things to this list. I'll keep you posted, and wish me luck for my trip I'm excited!

Life is for the Living

I haven't been blogging. I have been struggling as of late with the whole idea of sharing my life with strangers. Being open has always been a trait I've admired about myself, but how far to go? I intend to reveal to you that fine line; feel free to comment if you feel I've crossed it. Primarily a good rule would be to keep names out of it, unless of course that person gave you consent. Nothing like someone googling their name and finding explicit information about themselves floating around on www. Next, it has to be important to consider you, the reader. Do you really want to hear a big long story about someone you don't even know? Keep it relevant, informational; a little back story can't hurt but make it brief.

Tonight my girlfriend and I agreed to not see each other anymore. She has become such an amazing friend, and helped me so much in learning about myself. Somehow though, I was relieved when we said goodbye. She helped me see that I had done this same thing everytime we had broken up in the past. It got me thinking about what was going on. The same thing was happening inside me, over and over again - crave intimacy and closeness, then lose myself in feeling responsible for my partner's emotions. I just googled codependency and found the CODA website. Everything there relates to exactly how I feel. Here's the link:

www.codependents.org/tools4recovery/patterns.php

That being said, I only need to be aware of these patterns, and have the courage to break through them with everyone I meet. Labels can be so dangerous and limiting. Maybe I'm not treating it with the respect it deserves, but I've always believed in facing my fears and weaknesses head on.

You know what? I just want to write for myself. Maybe this blog was meant for me to share what's going on with me to others without the direct exchange in person? This could be healthy for me, a way to be very honest with myself, and know that I could be judged, or misinterpreted, and it's all ok.

I remember being very young and asking all my friends if they liked me or not. It was torture. Covering that up with charm, humour and goofiness was enough to get the love I wanted from people. That being said, I refuse to let this stop me. I have come a long way since those days, and I feel even more positive and inspired about growing and learning. Maybe hearts will be broken, maybe there will be disappointments, but I declare to the world that I will be responsible, and considerate of others in a healthy, fair way. In a roundabout way, I've brought my title into this post. No matter how many embarrassing, or difficult, or uncomfortable situations come up in your future, just take it one moment at a time and smile through it all. It will shift for you, and you will eventually be so glad for the experience of coming through it.

Videos of my journey

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